HUNGRY FOR JUSTICE
Fairness under the law might depend on whether a judge’s stomach is growling when he pronounces sentence, according to a study of 1,000 parole decisions during 50 courtroom days observed by students from Columbia University and Israel’s Ben Gurion University for an April journal article. The students found that, day after day, judges were increasingly stingy with parole as a morning or afternoon session wore on, but that dramatic spikes in generosity took effect immediately following lunch or a snack break. The lead researcher, Columbia professor Jonathan Levav, expressed satisfaction with the scholarship but disappointment “as a citizen” with the findings.
Motorist Joel Dobrin, 32, was pulled over in a traffic stop in February in Moro, Oregon, and rushed to hide his alleged drug stash, which was in a sock. However, his dog intercepted the sock for an impromptu game of dog-tug-of-war. Dobrin won but lost his grip, and the sock flew out the driver’s window, right in front of the officer. Dobrin was cited, and later indicted, for drug possession.
Recently, Owlchemy Labs, a Massachusetts technology company, announced plans to release an iPhone/iPad app, “Smuggle Truck,” a game in which players compete to drive a pickup full of illegals over rocky terrain from Mexico into the U.S. without too many passengers bouncing out. In-game “additions” include pregnant women giving birth enroute, and special “green cards” are awarded to winners. Apple rejected the app, and Owlchemy said it will alter the game to feature animals escaping from a forest.
FOR THE BIRDS
The port town of Kumai, Borneo, consists of low-rise shops and houses serving a population of 20,000 but also many tall, windowless box buildings perforated with small holes. The structures are actually birdhouses, and the town’s chief industry is harvesting the nests of the hummingbird-like swiftlet, constructed of its own saliva, which, properly processed, yields a sweet-tasting paste with alleged medicinal qualities, according to a January BBC News report.
Young girls “grow up” prematurely, often aided by hungry retailers such as the U.S.’s Abercrombie & Fitch and the British clothiers Primark and Matalan, each of which this spring began peddling lines of padded bras for young girls. Abercrombie & Fitch’s offering is the “Ashley Push-Up Triangle” aimed at eight-year-olds, while Matalan is promoting a size “28aa.” Child advocates were predictably disgusted, with one Los Angeles psychologist opining that permissive mothers were trying to compensate through their daughters for their own lack of sexual appeal.